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February 29, 2024

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Professors talk about career highs and lows

Forty years ago Lawrence Daly and David Newman were hired by the University as professors. In these past 40 years Americans have seen the Watergate scandal and Exxon Valdez oil spill, while Daly and Newman have seen issues that have hit closer to home such as the increase of students on campus and the elimination of the curfew for women students. Talking to the two is like digging up a time capsule that contains memories of the last 40 years.

Daly is a history professor and teaches courses on ancient Greek and Roman history, history from the Bible and introductory world history courses. Newman is a professor of chemistry and teaches courses including physical chemistry and researches molten salts, batteries, and thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

The chair of the history department, Scott Martin, said that Daly has been a fixture in the history department. “That kind of longevity and dedication is really quite remarkable,” said Martin.

Daly was present for the University’s change into a modern university.

“That’s [40 years] a long time to do anything. I’m sure he’s seen a lot of changes … He’s a part of that whole process,” Martin said.

Daly does not like the students’ tendency to slack in the classroom, but admits that his complaint was probably true 40 years ago. “But there are still enough people around to make it [teaching] worthwhile,” Daly said.

Another of Daly’s complaints was that “kids should be critical, communicative and more cultured than on entry. I don’t know if that is obtained by the academic atmosphere.”

Many things have changed in the history department over the years. “That’s why we stay in the game,” Daly said. “The students are the big payoff.”

Daly had not expected to teach at the University for 40 years. “I thought I’d be moving on and up. Bowling Green has been a nice place to teach,” Daly said.

He has enjoyed the teaching, material and research that have been part of his job. “It’s just fun to be able to explore – and to share with other people,” Daly said. “I have never gotten bored.”

There are always new ways to look at history, Daly said. In his introduction to world history class, his students are exploring Plato’s Cave. He hopes that his students will find what is superficial in life and take knowledge and make use of it.

“That’s what I’ve been doing in a historical sense,” Daly said. “I’m really beginning to feel like an ancient historian, in both senses.”

“Daly and I were grandfathered in,” said Newman. “We’re the old guard.”

Newman also made complaints about some of the changes that have occurred over the years.

“The most striking change over the past 40 years is that the state contributed to three quarters of students’ educations; now, it is only one quarter,” Newman said.

Newman noted a decline in the library because of electronic media. He said that the handwritten page has decreased tremendously and expressed his dismay that no one reads any more.

He has also seen a lot of change in the chemistry department. Newman said that high schools are not doing a good job teaching math because it is not a high priority.

“Math is the language of science, so science declines,” Newman said. He continued, explaining that per capita income is going down, which causes a decrease in contributions to education. He described this as a vicious cycle.

His plans were not to become a college professor, but teaching a year of high school in Queens convinced him to get his doctorate. He originally wanted to be an astronaut and was invited into the program, but he did not want to join the military, which was a requirement of the program.

Newman said that since he has been a part of the University for so many years and chaired the faculty senate twice, he compared himself to someone with many Mafia secrets, saying he “knows where all the bodies are buried.”

One event that Newman particularly remembered was a rally on May 4, 1970, that paralleled the rally at Kent State University where four students were killed. The rally was a protest against the American invasion of Cambodia launched by President Nixon.

Michael Ogawa, the chair of the chemistry department, said that Newman “has the University at heart. He is not solely engaged in his own activities.”

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